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How To Find a Plumbing Leak?

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    Finding the source of a leak in the plumbing of your home can be challenging, but it is essential in order to prevent the potential damage that can be caused by leaking pipes. The kind of leak you have is a major factor in determining how you will go about finding its source. The pipe that is leaking under your sink is much easier to discover than the one that is obstructed by the ceiling or the walls. After determining that you do in fact have a leak in one of your pipes, the next step in locating the source of the problem is to examine each individual space in your house.

    The majority of homeowners will, at some point over the lifetime of their home, encounter a plumbing leak of some kind. There are some leaks that are easy to spot, such as frozen pipes that burst open. Others are unseen, such plumbing pipes lying beneath floors that have loose connections.

    The sooner a leak is discovered, the sooner it may be repaired when it has been discovered. However, you will first need to be familiar with the process of locating it. This is when we come into the picture. At Wagner, our plumbers are trained to detect leaks and are specialists in the field.

    In this post, we will discuss all you need to know about water leaks, including where they most commonly start, how to go about detecting them, and the reasons why you should always bring in a professional plumber to assist you in any situation with a water leak.

    How Do You Know When You Have A Water Leak?

    The following is a list of the most typical indicators of a plumbing leak, as well as a quick approach to detect whether or not water is leaking into your home.

    What Are The Signs Of A Leak?

    Depending on where they originate and how severe they are, some leaks might be immediately apparent. When a frozen pipe bursts through their ceiling, for example, most homeowners won't even be home when it happens. However, other leaks can be far more subtle. For instance, a slab leak may not be visible—you’ll only see evidence of it in abnormally high water bills.

    The following is a list of some of the obvious symptoms that you have a water leak:

    • Discoloration on the walls, floors, and ceilings
    • There are wet patches underneath the ceiling where there are leaks.
    • Wet drywall
    • Mold and mildew that is obvious on the exterior of showers and bathtubs
    • There are cracks in the foundation of your home.

    Here are several symptoms that may be less obvious if you have a leak:

    • Odors that are unfamiliar and musty, which are typically attributed to mould or mildew.
    • An unexpected jump in your monthly water bill, both in terms of consumption and expense
    • When no one is using the water, there is only a very faint sound of water running.

    Confirming You Have A Leak

    You can skip this step if there is obvious water damage in your home; this is pretty firm evidence that there is a leak of some kind in your home. If there is visible water damage in your home, you can skip this step. Nevertheless, additional diagnostic work may be required if you notice any weird odours, if there is an increase in your water bills, or if you just have a gut feeling that there is a leak somewhere in your home.

    To begin, please carry out this test. Make certain that no water is being utilised anywhere in your house for the next half an hour. This is typically much simpler to accomplish when the other members of the household are away at school or at work. This includes water features such as fountains and irrigation systems. For the sake of this examination, you should not completely turn off the water supply; rather, you should make certain that no appliance in or around your house is consuming any water.

    Check the reading on the water metre. A leak indication must to be included on your water metre. In the majority of units, this is represented by a miniature wheel or a triangle. The leak metre can detect even the tiniest amounts of water that are leaking through the pipes in your home. For instance, if you have successfully switched off everything else in the house that uses water, but your own water level continues to rise, you likely have a leak in your plumbing.

    Other Indoor Leaks

    how to find a plumbing leak

    Leaking pipes aren't the only source of water damage inside buildings. Below, we'll talk more about roof leaks, but there are several other potential sources of water damage in your home, including the following:

    Leaking Tubs & Showers

    In addition to the pipes that link the tub and shower, it is also possible for the tub or shower itself to spring a leak. This can frequently occur when waterproof caulking deteriorates over time or is removed inadvertently; this results in water being able to get between floor tiles.

    Leaking Appliances

    If the water damage appears to be confined to a small area surrounding your washing machine or dishwasher, you should further check to ensure that the issue is not caused by the appliance itself or any of its connections or drain-outs.

    Leaking Water Heaters

    When water heaters get older, the tanks, which have begun to rust, might develop minor leaks and become less effective. This is the most likely explanation for why water is pooling around the base of your water heater if you have noticed this problem. In other circumstances, the pressure-relief valve on the water heater might need to be opened in order to let water (and pressure) out of the tank.

    How To Trace A Water Leak In Plumbing

    Confirm The Leak

    In order to find the cause of the moisture, you should move the appliances out of their current place whenever it is possible. A dishwasher, for example, will spill water all around the device if its supply line breaks and causes a leak. If this does not indicate where the moisture is coming from, you will need to turn off all of the faucets, appliances, and fixtures in your home that consume water, and then use a piece of tape or a pencil to mark the location where the needle is pointing on your water metre. After turning off the appliances, fixtures, and faucets, you should recheck the metre after approximately eight hours has passed. If the needle has shifted, this sugagests that there is a leak in the plumbing system someplace.

    Kitchen And Bathrooms

    Look for signs of moisture at the joints and at the bottom of the P trap by opening the cabinet doors that are located beneath sinks and shining a flashlight inside. Corrosion on the supply line fittings and valves may also be an indication that a pipe is leaking somewhere in the system. Clear out the cabinet and check the bottom for signs of a leak, such as water stains, moisture, mould or mildew, buckled or peeling material, and so on. If you find any of these things, the cabinet has a leak. Adjust any loose connections and remove any dampness. To determine whether or not this resolves the issue, the water supply should be restarted. Sometimes the leak is in the supply valve or line, and it will be clear when the supply is turned off and then activated again because the leak will have been exposed. If this is the issue, you will need to replace the supply line that is leaking. You can use the same strategy to all of the fixtures and appliances in your home that use water, such as the toilet, the dishwasher, and the refrigerator.

    Floors, Walls And Ceilings

    Check the flooring in the areas surrounding the plumbing fixtures and appliances that make use of water, such as the toilets, the bathtubs, the dishwashers, and the refrigerators. The presence of moisture and the possibility of a leak are both indicated by flooring that is cracked, deformed, or spongy in some areas. In addition, check the walls and ceilings of the rooms that are directly underneath the bathrooms. There is a leak somewhere in those pipes if there are stains on the ceiling or walls, as well as paint or wallpaper that is bubbling or peeling. Before you start tearing down walls or flooring, you should get in touch with a plumber to have the leak inspected, fixed, and the area pinpointed for you.

    Basements And Crawl Spaces

    Pipes that are exposed in basements and crawl areas should be inspected. The presence of corrosion or moisture surrounding the pipes is a sign that there is a leak. Around these pipes, if you find any signs of mould, mildew, or decaying wood, it's likely that the source of the leak is in this region. Since water has a tendency to flow downward, the location of water stains is not always the same as the precise location of the pipe that is leaking. Nevertheless, it is an excellent predictor of the overall location of the source of the moisture.

    Find And Repair Hidden Plumbing Leaks

    Locate and repair any little leaks before they might cause significant damage.

    Tub And Shower: Splash Leaks

    Splash leaks are simply instances in which water seeps through the gaps in a shower door or curtain. According to our plumbers, this is the most prevalent type of leak found in bathrooms. This leak, which may seem insignificant at first, actually causes significant damage because water seeps into the subfloor at the point where the flooring meets the bathtub or shower. After a short while, the vinyl flooring or tiles start to become unstuck. Even worse, the plywood subfloor eventually delaminates and rots, which necessitates a massive and expensive job to rip it out and replace it.

    Warning signs are as follows:

    • A vinyl floor that is curling or tiles that are loose adjacent to the bathtub.
    • Near the shower, there were areas of flaking paint or a chalky-looking wood finish that had developed.
    • spots caused by water on either the ceiling or the joists below.
    • Mold growing in patches on the wall or floor next to the bathtub or shower.
    • After you get out of the shower, check to see if there is any water left standing on the floor if you have a curtain.

    How To Find The Source Of A Bathtub Drain Leaking:

    • Splash water all around the perimeter of the door and frame of the shower if it has one. It can take five minutes or longer for leaks around the frame to become apparent.
    • Check for holes in the rubber door sweep or rubber gaskets if the door has either of those features.
    • Additionally, inspect the area where the shower or tub meets the flooring for any cracks or holes in the caulk.

    How To Fix A Leaking Tub Drain:

    • When you are closing sliding doors, you need to ensure that they overlap in the correct manner. It's important that the inner door is the one that's closest to the sink.
    • If your bathroom does not have a door, you will need to ensure that the shower curtain is completely closed whenever you use the shower or instal a splash guard.
    • To stop water from seeping through a frame, run a thin bead of tub and caulk along the inside of the frame's perimeter. Applying the caulk requires some force to ensure that it fills any gaps that may exist between the frame and the shower surround. Immediately remove any excess caulk by wiping it clean. After the caulk has had time to dry, you should do another leak test.
    • Replace any door sweeps or gaskets that are worn out. Take the old one with you to a home centre or a plumbing supply store, and ask an employee there to help you find a suitable replacement (be sure to get the correct size to fit).
    • The old caulk that runs along the floor should be scraped away and replaced with a fresh bead if there are any cracks in it.

    Tub And Shower: Drain Leaks

    When there is a leak in the drain, water can go around the exterior of the drain and into the area where it is linked to the shower or bathtub. When you stand on a tub or shower pan made of plastic or fibreglass, the material tends to flex slightly, which can cause the seal around the drain to be broken. This is especially prevalent with plastic tubs and shower pans. These leaks have the potential to discolour or completely ruin the ceiling below, as well as rot the floor joists. If the bathtub is set on a concrete slab, the leak will harm the flooring in the bathroom as well as any rooms that are adjacent to the bathroom.

    Signs Of Trouble Bathtub Drain Leaking:

    • spots caused by water on either the ceiling or the joists below.
    • Loose flooring close to the bathtub or moist flooring in the rooms adjacent to it (if the tub is on a concrete slab).

    How To Find The Source Of A Leaking Tub Drain:

    • If there is an access panel or an open ceiling that allows you to see the underside of the drain, you should only partially fill the tub with water before letting it drain completely. First, use a rag to cover the drain in the shower, and then turn the water back on. Through the access panel on the bottom, check the drains and traps to see if there are any leaks.
    • In the event that you are unable to access the drain's underbelly, you should plug the drain and pour enough water into the area around the drain to create a small puddle (photo). Put a bottle of shampoo next to the puddle to denote where the dry land begins and ends. Then you should wait one hour. If the puddle gets smaller, there is probably a leak in the drain. Please do not rely on the stopper of your bathtub for this test; there is a possibility that it will leak. After removing the stopper, place a 1.50-inch needle into the hole. Test plug (find them at home centres). Take off the grate and replace it with a plug measuring 2 inches.

    How To Fix A Bathtub Drain Leaking:

    • To fix a broken drain on a bathtub, detach the drain flange that is located above the drain. After that, the flange should be cleaned, and silicone caulk should be applied. Also, remove the rubber gasket that is located under the drain hole of the tub, and then take it with you to a home improvement centre in order to get a gasket that matches it (be sure to get the correct size to fit). After the replacement gasket has been installed, the drain flange should be screwed in.
    • In the event that you have access to a shower drain below, you should turn the ring nut that secures the drain to the shower pan until it is as tight as possible. If it does not solve the problem, you will need to replace the drain assembly. In the event that you do not have access beneath the drain, you can either replace the drain assembly with a WingTite drain or cut a hole in the ceiling below the drain.

    Tub And Shower: Tile Leaks

    Tile leaks occur when water penetrates the wall behind the tile and makes its way into the tile itself through decaying grout or caulk (Figure A). Depending on the materials that were used to set the tile, this can result in the tile coming off the wall, serious rotting of the wall frame, and damage to the subfloor, joists, or ceiling below. Additionally, this can cause the tile to come off the wall.

    Signs Of Trouble:

    • Loose tiles.
    • Mold that does not go away.
    • It's possible that you'll find an area of flaking paint outside if the shower is located up against an outside wall.
    • Discoloration on the ceiling directly above the shower.

    How To Find The Source:

    • Check for gaps in the grout and the caulk between the seams. Mold can be seen in this location virtually usually.
    • If you have tile that is loose behind the tub spout or the faucet, you should open the access panel that is located behind the faucet and check for stains or dampness.

    How To Fix It:

    • Take remove the old caulk, grout, and tiles that are loose.
    • You can reattach tiles, regrout, and recaulk using tub and tile caulk if the surface below the tile is still firm. Other options include replacing the tile.
    • If the wall is spongy or more than a few tiles are loose, you will need to instal a new backer board and tile or a fibreglass surround. Another option is to use a fibreglass surround.

    Toilet Flange Leaks

    These leaks manifest themselves at the point where the toilet connects to the waste pipe below. They enable water to seep out with every flush, which will destroy flooring, ruin the subfloor and joists, and harm the ceiling that sits below.

    Signs Of Trouble:

    • There is a pool of water forming at the foot of the toilet.
    • Loose or damaged flooring.
    • Several stains can be seen on the ceiling below.
    • A toilet that has a small rocking motion when pressure is applied to it. Because of this movement, the wax seal that is currently between the toilet and the closet flange will eventually be broken.

    How To Find The Source:

    Before you proceed to the trouble of removing the toilet, take measurements from the piled walls (right photo) to determine whether or not your ceiling has stains. The most likely cause of the discoloration is a leaky flange, especially if it is located close to the toilet. After removing the toilet (Photo 2), search for the following potential leak sources:

    • The flange is either flush with or below the surface of the floor that is all around it.
    • The flange has developed cracks.
    • Broken either the bolts or the slots that the bolts fit into.
    • The flange is not securely fastened to the flooring, thus it can move around freely.

    How To Fix It:

    • In the event that you don't notice any of the issues described above, you should try reinstalling the toilet using a brand new wax ring.
    • Installing a plastic flange riser over the existing flange can be done in the event that the flange is at an insufficient height.
    • In the event that the flange or bolt slots are damaged, a metal repair flange should be installed.
    • If the floor is uneven, you should place toilet shims underneath the toilet before you replace it. This will prevent the toilet from rocking.

    Is The Leak Coming From A Pipe Or My Roof?

    how to find a plumbing leak 2

    Let's say you find a damp spot on your ceiling. What do you do? This water seepage could have been caused by either a leaking pipe or a leaking roof, both of which are possible possibilities.

    If you ask any roofer, they will tell you that roof leaks are extremely common, and that the majority of homeowners will experience at least a few leaks throughout their time living in their home, particularly if the roof is getting on in years.

    When both the roofing material (tile, shingles, etc.) and the underlayment in a roof deteriorate, the result is a roof that leaks. The moisture will then make its way through the roof itself, into the attic, and eventually, under the influence of gravity, into the living areas of your home.

    Ruling Out A Roof Leak

    You may very rapidly eliminate the possibility of a roof leak by performing the following steps:

    Has It Recently Rained?

    If it hasn't rained in the past several days, the moisture is most likely not coming from your roof but rather from a leaky pipe in your home; if the water damage has been getting worse over several days without rain, this is also evidence that the leak is coming from a pipe and not the roof.

    What Does The Water Meter Say?

    Check to see if an excessive amount of water is being utilised by performing the test on the water metre that was explained before. A leak in a pipe, for instance, is more likely to cause an increase in water consumption than a leak in the roof.

    What Does A Roofer Say?

    If it has been raining recently, your roof is in generally poor condition, and you do not know where the leak is coming from, it is probably not a bad idea to bring out a professional roofer in addition to our plumbers so that they can take a look at it and determine whether or not you require roof leak repair. If they do not observe any signs of damage, this is additional evidence suggesting that the issue is not with your roof but rather with your pipes.

    If you find that the leak is coming from your roof, you should seek the assistance of a professional as soon as possible to repair the roof leak. When you get your roof mended more quickly, you will have more time to determine whether or not it was the cause of the issue.

    If the water damage becomes more severe, it is possible that your roof was not the original source of the problem after all.

    How Can I Tell Where A Leak Is Coming From?

    After determining that the problem does not originate from your roof, it is time to investigate other potential sources within your home for the leak. Inside of your walls, beneath your floors, and even in your ceilings, there is a complex system of water pipes that runs throughout your home.

    It is possible that you will be required to make an educated guess as to the location of the leak if you do not have a comprehensive map of the pipes in your home.

    This is a more complicated issue than it might appear at first. Within the confines of your property, water is capable of moving in all three dimensions. Because of gravity, moisture tends to fall. When it comes into contact with items like insulation or studs that prevent it from flowing downward, water is free to travel in whichever direction it chooses.

    It is not always as easy as examining the source of the water damage, taking away the drywall, and locating the leaky pipe in the wall. As an illustration, it is not unheard of for the bathroom located upstairs to be the source of water damage seen on an internal wall located downstairs.

    Call A Plumber

    At this stage, you should seek the assistance of a plumber to locate the source of the leak. This is due to the fact that good leak identification relies heavily on one's intuition as well as their prior knowledge.

    Experienced plumbers, such as the ones we have here at Wagner, have dealt with a large number of residential leaks, and as a result, they have a knowledge of where leaks typically originate and how to most effectively access them in order to make water leak repairs as quickly as possible.

    Leaks in water pipes, like the majority of other plumbing issues you'll face, won't fix itself. A pipe leak won't miraculously go away. If you put off repairing the water damage or put it off until "next weekend," it is simply going to become worse the longer you wait. This encompasses all and everything that comes along with water damage, such as the deterioration of the structure and the growth of mould. The situation with the leaks is urgent, and immediate action must be taken.


    It's possible that you won't realise you have a water leak until it's too late, which is why it's critical to be aware of the warning signals and what to do if a leak is discovered. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Check the areas surrounding your property that appear to be damp or wet but do not appear to be caused by rains. If you find any of these spots in your home, you should follow the steps outlined above to locate the source of the plumbing leak. We sincerely hope that you found this post to be informative!

    Frequently Asked Questions About Plumbing Leak

    We all know leaky pipes can run up water costs and damage your home. However, long-term damage can also contribute to a decreased value on your property. ... It turns out, some leaks are more common than others — and all of them can be stopped before they cause significant damage if you catch them early enough.

    Ground microphones and listening discs are among the basic tools that plumbers use to pinpoint leaks. Using sound technology, they can hear the noise of escaping water and dripping even through a layer of concrete.

    Water leaking out of your pipes or fixtures will eventually cause enough corrosion that even a pinhole-sized leak can grow and potentially cause damage to your home. Many people believe that small leaks will stay small even if ignored for a while, but the truth is that over time, they will get worse.

    Well, the answer is yes to a point. You don't want a constant leak. Could you imagine trying to solder or glue on a fitting with a constant drip? It will affect the adhesives, and it will make sweating virtually impossible.

    The plumber's putty seals the parts to prevent leaks. A common location for leaks, and thus putty, is around toilets and drains. Putty also helps seal the drains for sinks and tubs.

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